By Elham Asaad Buaras
A mosque in the Sri Lankan capital has been closed after an attack by a Buddhist mob earlier this month in which five people were hurt.
In a deal struck with the Government Muslims in Colombo’s Grandpass area will use an older place of worship which has been saved from demolition.
But the authorities have also been condemned for failing to make arrests.
In recent months hard-line Buddhist groups have mounted a campaign against Muslim and Christian targets.
In July, a group of Buddhist monks protested near the mosque, demanding it to be relocated.
But during evening prayers Buddhist-led crowds threw stones at the mosque.
The curfew has now been lifted but hundreds of police and special forces are still present on the streets.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Council (SLMC) confirmed that the mosque, which was attacked would be abandoned for an older place of worship which the Government had previously earmarked for demolition.
In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for SLMC said that “the Buddhist and Muslim clergy have agreed to amicably resolve the issues that led to Saturday night’s attack in Grandpass, where a newly built Muslim praying Centre was damaged.”
The decision was taken following a meeting held at the Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs Ministry.
Western Province Governor Alavi Maulana said an outside gang had attacked an old mosque in Grandpass area making a threat to the harmony between the communities in the area.
The country’s main opposition UNP party condemned authorities for failing to make arrests.
MP Harin Fernando said, “Not a single arrest [has been] made so far, when it comes to attacks against religious places over the past year. This is why we are seeing more and more attacks.”
The past year has seen mounting religious tension in the country as hard-line Buddhist groups have attacked mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, as well as churches and clergy.
In February, one group also called for the abolition of the Muslim halal system of certifying foods and other goods.
Buddhist hard-liners accuse Muslims and Christians of promoting extremism and trying to convert Buddhists to their own faiths. Both Muslims and Christians have denied such accusations.
The Buddhist Sinhalese community makes up three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s population of 20 million.
During Sri Lanka’s bitter civil war, the Muslims – a small Tamil-speaking minority, about 9% of the population – kept a low profile, but many now fear that ethnic majority hard-liners are trying to target them.